Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Moby Dick is no Friend to the Plastic Dieter

I made the mistake of trying to eat at Moby Dick tonight. Moby Dick is a take-out falafel/pita place in Dupont Circle. I was excited, since I absolutely ADORE Mediterranean food. But, once inside, it became clear that Moby Dick is no friend to the Plastic Dieter.

It started out innocently enough. I walked in and perused the menu excitedly. When it became clear that the restaurant generally served its food on either plastic plates or in styrofoam containers, I started to get concerned. But, this is nothing I don't face often enough. Just last week I ate with some colleagues in the Botanical Gardens. We got take out from the Native American museum, which typically uses plastic for to-go containers, and I just asked the chef to kindly wrap my turkey sandwich in a paper towel. It worked just fine!

So, I asked if I could order a pita sandwich and have them wrap it in a paper towel. The employee stuttered a yes but his overbearing, rude manager shouted out a no. Not yet deterred, I asked if they could use foil. The manager reported that it was against the health code. Really? It's against the health code to serve a sandwich in paper or foil? Chipotle, Baja Fresh, Potbelly's, Cosi, even fast food like McDonald's and Burger King do it all the time. And I am 100% sure I've eaten foil-wrapped falafel in Adams Morgan. It looks like this wrapped up in foil:

Or like this in paper:

I'd be frankly shocked if there were any rule against using paper or foil packaging. I'd very much like to see it in writing. When it's not the middle of the night, I'll try to check into the DC Health Code.

Eventually, the employee brought over the hard plastic plate and the styrofoam container and said, "We have this or we have this." And I said, "Well, then I don't think I want anything." My friends still ate there, but I went to Baja Fresh. I will never eat at Moby Dick. Not until they at least try a biodegradeable plastic. There are so many other options that are at least marginally accomodating of their customers. My distress this evening really went beyond the plastic issue to the way I felt I was treated, with a complete lack of flexibility, creativity, or customer service.

At least my burrito was delicious.

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